Japan's Shoma Uno claims 1st world title with dominant performance at figure skating worlds

Olympic bronze medallist Shoma Uno concluded a dominant performance at the figure skating world championships by winning the gold medal Saturday for his first world title.

Roman Sadovsky finishes 12th, 2 places ahead of fellow Canadian Keegan Messing

Shoma Uno of Japan celebrates after winning gold at the figure skating world championships in Montpellier, France on Saturday. Uno posted personal bests in both the short program and the free skate. (Francisco Seco/The Associated Press)

Olympic bronze medallist Shoma Uno concluded a dominant figure skating world championships by winning the gold medal Saturday, while Vincent Zhou of the U.S. catapulted from sixth after his short program to earn the bronze.

Uno finished with 312.48 points to easily outdistance Yuma Kagiyama, who finished second to his Japanese teammate in both the short program and free skate. Kagiyama had 297.60 points while Zhou finished with 277.38.

"I haven't won too often so I'm very happy about that," Uno said. "I was watching all the performances of the previous groups so I knew very well where I was. All my emotions went into a smile at the end of my program."

WATCH l Shoma Uno secures 1st world title: 

Shoma Uno secures 1st-career world championship title

5 months ago
Duration 7:47
The Japanese skater cruised to the gold medal in France with a total score of 312.48 to win by 14.88 points.

Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., finished the competition in 12th place with a total score of 245.36. He bounced back after a poor short program with a strong free skate that saw him finish in ninth place in the long program.

Fellow Canadian Keegan Messing finished in 14th place with 235.03 points. The Sherwood Park, Alta., native was ninth after the short program.

WATCH l Sadovsky finishes 12th at figure skating worlds:

Canadian Roman Sadovsky finishes 12th at figure skating worlds

5 months ago
Duration 7:56
Sadovsky recovered from 18th place in the short program in Montpellier, France to post a total score of 245.36.

It was an emotional and redemptive performance Saturday for the 21-year-old Zhou, who helped the Americans win team silver at the Beijing Games — a medal that could be elevated to gold pending a Russian doping investigation.

Zhou was preparing for the men's competition when he tested positive for COVID-19, knocking him out of the rest of his Olympics. He was forced to spend nearly two weeks in quarantine before he was finally allowed out in time to perform in the closing exhibition gala, then was deemed a "close contact" and barred from the closing ceremony.

"I'm still very upset over the loss of that opportunity at the Olympics," he said, "but I'm very grateful that I still had the chance to compete here at worlds. And again, I'm very proud of myself for putting out two strong performances."

WATCH l Keegan Messing falls to 14th after free skate:

Canadian Keegan Messing falls to 14th at figure skating worlds

5 months ago
Duration 8:08
Messing was in ninth place after the short program but dropped to 14th with a disappointing free skate at the World Figure Skating Championships.

His performance Saturday ended a rollercoaster of a season on a high.

Before all of Zhou's trouble in Beijing, the Brown University student soared to victories in the lower-level Cranberry Cup and Nebelhorn Trophy before finishing second in his Grand Prix assignment at the NHK Trophy. Then, Zhou topped Uno and his American teammate Nathan Chen, the Olympic champion, at Skate America.

"I don't want to sound like a broken record, but as I've said a lot of times, I was mentally in a very bad place," Zhou said. "I couldn't do anything. But I got myself on the plane, I got myself together, I took it one practice at a time and now I've put out two strong performances, and I'm so proud of myself."

Chen, the three-time world champion, was unable to defend his title this week. He was putting in the final practice before heading to Montpellier, France, when an injury popped up last week that forced him to withdraw.

That opened the door for Umo to finally stand on the top step of the podium.

WATCH | Shoma Uno takes 1st world figure skating title | That Figure Skating Show:

Shoma Uno takes first world figure skating title

5 months ago
Duration 7:37
Japan's Shoma Uno gets gold at the world championships, followed by teammate Yuma Kagiyama and American Vincent Zhou. The Canadians did not finish top 10, but still got 2 spots for Canada at next years' worlds.

'I haven't won too often so I'm very happy about that'

Long overshadowed by Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu, the 24-year-old Umo finished second at the 2017 and 2018 world championships and was fourth last year. But he was a level above everyone else in France, following a personal-best score in his short program with another personal-best for his "Bolero" program in the free skate.

"I haven't won too often so I'm very happy about that," Umo said. "I was watching all the performances of the previous groups so I knew very well where I was. All my emotions went into a smile at the end of my program."

Seventeen-year-old American star Ilia Malinin, who is targeting the 2026 Olympics in Italy, was fourth after his short program but struggled with his free skate. He wound up tumbling all the way to ninth, though not without showing some of the vast promise that has made him the heir apparent to Chen in American figure skating.

"I think it was more pressure on myself, just wanting to skate good so badly and it kind of didn't work out," he said. "I feel I was maybe a little bit too into the program. It was just a mess, so it's hard to explain what happened."

Ukraine's Shmuratko gets standing ovation

Emotions ran high as Ukraine's Ivan Shmuratko received a long standing ovation that even delayed the start of his free skate, although he was not penalized by the judges.

Shmuratko, who ultimately finished last, had skated his short program wearing Ukraine's blue and yellow training T-shirt.

Ukraine's skaters have been taking part in the world championships despite most of them taking days to get out of their country to make it to France.

Russian and Belarusian skaters were banned from competing following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

With files from Reuters

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